Monday, August 30, 2004

Manie van Rensburg retrospective at Apollo Festival

Enigmatic Afrikaner filmmaker, Manie van Rensburg, will feature prominently at this year's Apollo Film Festival.

The festival will feature special screenings of Van Rensburg's well-known The Native who caused all the Trouble, The Fourth Reich and Taxi to Soweto.

Although the Apollo festival is primarily comprised of category competitions for new South African product, a special retrospective focus has brought an important historic perspective to South Africa's premier indigenous film event.

Local filmmakers who have been highlighted in the retrospective slot at previous festivals include Ross Devenish, Katinka Heyns, Jans Rautenbach, and several of the progressive directors active during the struggle years in the 1980s such as Andrew Worsdale, Darrell Roodt and Oliver Schmitz.

Van Rensburg, born in Krugersdorp in 1945, was never easy to categorize. He was described in 1983 in the Cape Argus as "a director with the talent and skill that could eventually put him with the ranks of the world's best"; and South African film historian Martin Botha describes his development as a filmmaker as the chronicler of "the Afrikaner psyche during three significant periods: firstly, the 1930s and the trauma of urbanization; secondly, the revival of Afrikaner nationalism in the 1940s; and thirdly, the modern urban Afrikaner of the 1970s and 1980s".

All three periods will be represented in the important retrospective to be screened as part of the Apollo Film Festival.

Van Rensburg was obsessed with film from an early age. He bought his first movie camera at age 14 with his earnings as a church organist. In 1969, after a stint at Potchefstroom University, Van Rensburg formed his own film company, Visio Films. He was 22. He started with R140 in the bank, and directed Freddie's in Love, a film described by Botha as one having "avant garde tendencies". Undeterred, Van Rensburg moved on to make Die Bankrower (The Bank Robber), a competent thriller that received positive notices from the critic.

There was no letup in Van Rensburg's passion to make films. When television finally made its appearance in South Africa in 1976, he turned to this medium as an outlet for his considerable talents. But his relationship with the State broadcaster was cut after he accompanied 52 prominent South Africans when they traveled to Dakar in 1987 to talk with the then banned ANC.

Van Rensburg received many awards for his work inside South Africa, and also abroad. "His films," says Botha, "explore the psyche of the Afrikaner within an historical as well as a contemporary context. He is preoccupied with communication problems between people, especially within love relationships. The outsider is a dominant figure in his universe. By studying Van Rensburg's oeuvre, one realizes that he is probably South Africa's most prominent contemporary auteur director."

He formed friendships with people like Jans Rautenbach and Van Zyl Slabbert, yet his life was consistently enigmatic and sad. His marriage to actress Grethe Fox failed. He broke his back and was confined to a wheelchair. And at the end of 1993 he committed suicide, an act still clouded in mystery.

The Apollo Film Festival's retrospective of Manie van Rensburg's films is a South African first. The Festival runs from 24 September to 2 October. For further details see the Apollo Festival Company's website on

For a more complete picture of the Cinema of Manie van Rensburg see this article by Martin Botha.

SA doc festival - Encounters - anounces results

South Africa's premiere documentary festival Encounters, the 6th South African International Documentary festival has announced the winners of the prestigious Jameson Audience Awards for 2004.

Best International Film - Touching the Void by Kevin Macdonald
Best South African Film - Born into Struggle by Rehad Desai

The next top four films in each category, Best Film and Best South African Film, are as follows:

Best South African Film

Story of a Beautiful Country
Spirits of the Uhadi
South African Love Story - Walter and Albertina Sisulu
A Fisherman's Tale

Best International Film

Riding Giants
House of Saud
Bus 174
The Corporation

Encounters was very pleased to report an unprecedented 34% growth in attendances at this year's South African International Documentary Festival with over 13 000 patrons attending the Festival.

Born into Struggle, a world première at Encounters, is a very personal story directed by Rehad Desai. His father, Barney Desai, took his family to live in exile in England and this is the touching tale of their trails and tribulations. Born into Struggle will feature at the upcoming 3 Continents Festival and will be screened on SABC1 in 2005.

Chikin Biznis

Not a chickin Posted by Hello

Chikin Biznis presents a slice of South African township life told in whimsical style. The upbeat film zones in on the opportunities and challenges facing entrepreneurs in the new South Africa.

Chikin Biznis is director Ntshaveni Wa Luruli first feature, the other being The Wooden Camera. Wa Luruli is refreshing in his portrail of an up-beat South Africa, delivered with a soft touch.

Lead character, Sipho, retires after working in the city for 25 years. His master plan is to sell chickens to the Soweto community. A calculated risk which soon leads the cavalier Romeo into some hilarious and sometimes dangerous situations.

Sipho's new found trade seemingly enhances his noteable charisma and leads him into a string of endless incidents. He has a talent for sweet talk, mischievous banter, illicit (often dangerous) liaisons, less than legit business dealings and general chaos.

However, all is restored to order in the end and Sipho settles down to a life of relative peace and contentment much to the happiness of all around.

As the tale unfolds, Soweto’s heartbeat – the verve of the people and the environment reveal a colourful tapestry. Chikin Biznis is a spirited contemporary African story rich in texture and sound.

Director: Ntshaveni Wa Luruli

Actors: Fats Bookholane; Connie Chiume; Clementine Mosimane; Nomsa Nene

Running time: 112 minutes

Date Released: 1998

Age restriction: PG

Vues D’Afrique African Film Festival Montreal 1999
Grand Prix
Best Leading Actor
Best Script


The title of this South African submission for the foreign language Oscar translates as "magic," or the ability to set things right.

The story takes place outside rural Toorwater, where railroad-depot manager Hendrik MacDonald (Marius Weyers) lives some distance from the town with his unhappy family -- wife Katrina (Aletta Bezuidenhout), who finds her Hendrik inattentive; their son Willem (Larry Leyden), shocked into silence two years earlier; and sensitive teen daughter Emma (Liezel van der Merwe).

Then one morning they awaken to find wild animals in an abandoned circus train which has been shunted off to the wrong station. Trainers and performers soon arrive, and the circus brings paljas to the remote railroad family. After the circus troupers leave, clown-mime Manuel (Ellis Pearson) stays on, moving into a nearby shack, befriending Willem and teaching him magic and clown arts. Although these events have a positive effect on the family, the local townspeople are threatened by the changes they see. Originally in Afrikaans, it was filmed simultaneously in an English version. ~ Bhob Stewart

Starring Marius Weyers, Aletta Bezuidenhout, Jan Ellis, Larry Leyden, Liezel van der Merwe. (NR, 119 minutes).

Director > Katinka Heyns

Waiting for Valdez

A gentle insight into a young boy’s experience

The film tells of his burning ambition to see the latest movie on the circuit. Due to insufficient money, he and his friends pull their resources and two go to see the film, promising to relate the story to the rest of the gang.

Director: Dumisani Phakati

Actors: Dolly Rathebe; Raljdeen Abdullah; Shane Kok

Running time: 28 minutes

Date Released: 2002

Age restriction: PG

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Out on a Limb scoops 2004 Wine Country Film Festival award

Out on a Limb the comedy drama caper, filmed in Cape Town last year and produced by Theta Films and co-financed by the Industrial Development Corporation of SA has just won the BEST COMEDY award at the 18th annual Wine Country Film Festival in Napa Valley, California.

Read more

Monday, August 23, 2004

The African Screen@The Labia

The Labia, Cape towns famous Independent cinema in the Garderns have dedicated a permenant program to South African film, documentaries as well as movies from all over the continent.

The Hollywood reporter on the SA film industry

The Cape Town skyline is being ripped apart by a series of violent explosions, flashing flame and light against the backdrop of Table Mountain -- or at least it will be, as soon as the animators on "Charlie Jade" drop in computer-generated imagery.

"Jade," a 170 million rand ($27.4 million) sci-fi noir TV series filming in South Africa's legislative capital, is not the only thing booming in the city: Cape Town's features industry is 140% ahead of last year's revenue pace, according to the Cape Town Film Office, and insiders predict that the action will become more ballistic following the recent launch of a government rebate scheme.

Announced last month by South Africa's Department of Trade and Industry, the scheme has set aside 252 million rand ($40.7 million) to be distributed during the next three years. To qualify for as much as 10 million rand ($1.6 million) of that money, a company must spend at least 25 million rand ($4 million) on a project and shoot at least 50% of its principal photography in South Africa.

"The incentive is probably the best thing that could have happened to this country," says Chris Roland, executive producer on "Jade" and co-owner of local production house the Imaginarium, whose recent film credits include United Artists' upcoming war-drama release "Hotel Rwanda." "It shows that the government recognizes film as a rapidly growing and very viable industry in terms of job creation and hard-currency returns. I predict a massive influx into South Africa."

Servicing international commercials has long been a mainstay of the local production industry, built on a combination of affordability and quality thanks to adept crews and a weak currency. But with the rand strengthening to about 6.2 to the dollar (from a record-low 13:1 exchange rate in 2002) and Cape Town's tourism-related prices skyrocketing, the commercials trade has taken a 30% knock compared with last year's pace, according to the Commercial Producers Assn.

On the other hand, feature production is thriving, both in servicing international productions like the upcoming Nicolas Cage vehicle "Lord of War" and in creating original content like "Jade," a South African/Canadian co-production. Teri-Lin Robertson, head of Reeleyes Film -- a company now in preproduction on "Lord" -- believes that South Africa is opening up as a movie destination.

"It seems to be a boom time for the industry," she says, adding that "Lord's" producers were drawn to the wealth of South Africa's locations and the diversity of its population, both of which have made it possible to shoot scenes (with matching extras) that take place in 39 locations from Afghanistan to Sierra Leone.

Philip Key, co-owner of Moonlighting, one of South Africa's largest production houses, attributes the steady rise of the local features industry to the strategic planning that goes into longform production, which is not as subject to the whims of currency exchange rates as is something like the commercials industry.

"We have had enormous growth over the last decade, but now we're emerging out of the period built on a weak currency with a country equipped to the hilt with crew and equipment and a world-leading business ethic," Key says. "If anything, the strengthening rand is going to normalize the situation because now we have to compete on value, rather than just a cheap currency. I think we'll end up in a far better position than before."

Moonlighting has serviced more than 60 international commercials and five features during the past year, including Paramount's planned 2005 release "Ask the Dust," starring Colin Farrell and Salma Hayek. Production activity on those films collectively brought in more than 375 million rand ($60.4 million), "which, in terms of production value, way eclipses commercials," Key says.

That income is significant for the economy of South Africa, where domestic and international movie production combine to generate about 6 billion rand ($967 million) in annual revenue -- about 40% of which is spent on local labor, according to Cape Film Commission chief operations officer Martin Cuff.

"It's especially relevant if you consider that South Africa has a 40% unemployment rate," he says. "It's not hard to see why the government has decided that the film industry is a strategic growth sector that needs stimulating."

David Wicht, managing director at major local player Film Afrika, has two films in preproduction expressly because of the DTI rebates. But he is quick to note that that incentive is not the only reason productions are coming to South Africa, "which is important because we have to create an industry that is sustainable," he says. "These incentives will not be around forever."

For the time being, though, the incentives are making a difference. Qualifying foreign productions stand to receive back as much as 15% of their budgets, but the rebate jumps to 25% for local projects and co-productions -- a measure that South African industry heavyweight Anant Singh believes will shift the sector's focus from being a service center to a major manufacturer of original content.

Singh is one of the nation's leading producers with more than 55 local and international features under his belt, including the top-grossing 2001 local comedy "Mr Bones." He also heads the 400 million rand ($64.5 million) Dreamworld Film City studio complex, being built in Cape Town with the assistance of a 60 million rand ($9.7 million) injection from the Western Cape provincial government.

"The incentive will go hand in hand with the studio in attracting international and local business," Singh says, noting that Dreamworld is scheduled to open in 2006. "Having these kinds of financial tools is going to be instrumental in establishing our future talent."

Dimitri Martinis, senior policy manager at the National Film and Video Foundation, believes that the next critical step in growing the South African movie industry is attracting private investors.

"Government is not in the business of business; we know that allowing private investors to get involved will have a far greater positive effect in developing a sustainable industry that operates according to market principles," he says. "The rebate makes that possible."

Raising money for locally produced independent films traditionally has been an uphill struggle in South Africa. Just ask Bonnie Rodini, writer and executive producer of the $3 million feature adaptation "The Story of an African Farm," which debuted in May at the Marche du Film in Cannes.

"Private-sector investment didn't exist at the time I was raising money for the film," she says. "It was seen as far too high-risk, and one potential investor I cold-called actually cut me off by saying, 'I don't do charities.'"

Rodini sees the DTI rebates, coupled with the newly respectable Section 24F of the SA Income Tax Act -- which fell into disrepute amid widespread scams and abuse during the apartheid era -- as fundamental to changing such attitudes.

"The difference between then and now is remarkable, there's no question about it," she says. "For future projects, I'm not going to have to beg people to get involved; now, it's part of the business deal."

Of course, the local industry still faces challenges -- not least of which is securing international distribution deals, often a critical requirement in obtaining financing, particularly from the South African government's Industrial Development Corp.

"Unlike Australia, we don't have sufficient local audiences to sustain an indigenous industry; we have to look to the international market to recoup our costs and make a profit," Wicht says. "The long-term solution is to develop audiences, and I think as the economy grows, we will see audiences grow. But right now, for the vast majority of South Africans, cinema tickets are an unaffordable luxury; we need to emulate the Indian Bollywood and Nigerian Nollywood models, which are low-cost but high-volume."

The other big issue is convincing foreign movie productions to finish in South Africa.

"Until now, Cape Town has been a front-end industry: International productions come here, shoot and leave," says Barry Strick, postproduction manager at Sasani Film, which is doing transfers, digitizing and director's cuts on "Jade." "In the case of 'Charlie Jade,' it's because of the regulations of the co-production treaty -- they shot in South Africa, so they have to do the final post in Canada -- but it's more common that the director and producer simply don't want to stick around for another six to eight weeks when they could do the post at home."

But Strick is optimistic about the effects of the DTI rebates.

"There has been a positive upswing in the local post industry over the last year, and since the rebates were introduced, we've already seen a growth in the number of budget requests for full post -- including ones from India, which has never been a market for us before," he says. "It's early, but I think the incentives have the potential to change the local postproduction landscape."

Like nearly everyone else in the local industry, "Jade" executive producer and showrunner Robert Wertheimer is keen to see precisely how the DTI rebates will affect filmmaking in South Africa.

"It's very interesting for us as Canadians when our local entertainment industry in Canada exists precisely because of the existence of tax-credit investment," he says. "In Canada, those tax credits have been beneficial to suppliers, unions, technicians and actors but evolved as less of a support system for Canadian culture and talent like producers, lead performers, writers and directors; hopefully the incentives in South Africa have been designed to avoid those mistakes and to nurture and protect the indigenous culture."

Source: Hollywood Reporter

The Man Who Stole My Mother's Face

Cathy Henkel, an elegant white woman who lived in one of Johannesburg's more affluent suburbs was raped by a young man in her own home. She decided to document the investigation and confrontation. The resulting film, The Man Who Stole My Mother's Face, won the prize for best documentary feature in the 2004 Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

SEXUAL assault is the most hidden as well as the fastest growing crime in the world; statistics show that nine out of 10 women do not report such assaults to the police and many do not tell their families. The reasons for this are manifold; underlying the sordid, painful and traumatic physical attack is the stigma of fault, the unspoken suggestion or even accusation that the victim is somehow at least partly to blame. This was the case with Laura Henkel, an elegant white woman who lived in one of Johannesburg's more affluent suburbs. She was raped by a young man in her own home.

This in itself is hardly out of the ordinary; in fact it is a common occurrence. Post-apartheid South Africa has one of the highest rates of rape in the world: black on white, born of revenge or spawned by the last vestiges of racial frustration; black on black in the poverty of the township ghettos, and a crime alarmingly exacerbated by the belief among the under-educated that having sex with a virgin is a cure for AIDS. Children a few months old are ripe targets.

With this in view, it may be tempting for some to cry: "We told you so – democracy doesn't work. The blacks have no respect for human life."

But Henkel was raped by a white schoolboy who, passing her house one afternoon after school, asked to use the bathroom. Within a half-hour of letting him in she had been raped, savagely beaten and left for dead. She reported the case but the police paid scant notice, possibly not that interested in white-on-white sexual crimes, and possibly battle-wearied by constant violence and the fact that in South Africa a woman is raped every 26 seconds. Her neighbours were less than sympathetic – "there goes the neighbourhood" – and her own son blamed her for letting the boy in. Although she identified the putative rapist from a school photograph, he was never charged; shortly afterwards the traumatised Henkel left South Africa with her daughter, Cathy, and came to live in Australia.

Four years later, increasingly concerned by her mother's trenchant depression and sense of self-loathing, Cathy Henkel decided to take her back to South Africa to confront her attacker and perhaps find some catharsis. A film-maker by profession, she also decided to document the investigation and confrontation. The resulting film, The Man Who Stole My Mother's Face, won the prize for best documentary feature in the 2004 Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

The film is not without its ironies, which soon become clear even to those unfamiliar with apartheid-era South Africa. Black policemen helping a white woman track down a white rapist? In the event, Cathy Henkel became frustrated by the number of cases the police were investigating, bogged down by the plethora of offences, and took things into her own hands with the assistance of a private investigator. She eventually found out where the suspect lived and worked. The denouement comes when she faces the man who raped her mother.

Some of the performances in the documentary are spellbinding and there are images that will remain etched in the minds even of those who prefer not to confront the spectre of meaningless violence. Particularly outstanding is black playwright Bongani Linda, whose girlfriend killed herself after she was gang-raped. He killed one of the suspects and while in jail wrote a play about sexual assault that he tours to male audiences in schools and prisons.

Racial interfaces and stereotypes aside, and despite the fact it is always closely connected to the endemic problems of South Africa – poverty, urban violence and gender oppression – this film is ultimately about survival and redemption. Actor Glenn Close, one of the judges at Tribeca, described The Man Who Stole My Mother's Face as one of the most compelling and riveting films she had come across in this genre.


Affirmative stunts for SA

South Africa's growing film industry spurs affirmative action stunt training

CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- Thembaletu Tuytu flies through the air with arms flailing, then lands flat on his back with a thud. He leaps off the mats smiling, to quick applause from his classmates.

"I was scared, but now I'm getting it," says the 22-year-old from Cape Town's tough Khayelitsha township, before heading off for another practice run at his new career: African stuntman.

South Africa, over the last two years, has become a favored new location for shooting feature films. Last year Cape Town alone hosted 37, most of them foreign productions. Just this week, filming is beginning on "Lord of War," a major U.S. production starring Nicolas Cage as an international arms dealer.

But black stuntmen remain in short supply in post-apartheid South Africa, a country where white stunt actors capable of bungee jumping off a bridge, disarming a knife-wielding attacker or being lit on fire outnumber blacks 7-1. At times, desperate directors have had to resort to dressing white stunt performers in wigs and makeup to make a scene work.

That, however, has begun to change with the launch of the Dimensional Stunt School, Africa's first affirmative action stunt training program.

Read more

Stander delivers

Another review hails Stander the movie.

You may not know who Andre Stander was but Stander, the movie about this modern South African folk figure, brings back vivid memories of the struggle against Apartheid. Not a conventional political statement, the film revives the righteous rebellion that peaked for Americans during the 1980s trade sanctions and the stirring protest anthem "Sun City" (that was a key example of 80's multiculti pop, made into a rousing music video by Jonathan Demme). Americans intrinsically know something of Andre Stander's defiant spirit but writer/director Bronwen Hughes and the film's star Thomas Jane extend that defiance into a welcome action-movie myth.

Stander, who was a white Afrikaner and not a freedom fighter, served on the Johannesburg police force. He was part of the riot squad that quelled the 1976 Soweto uprising. After that experience of a brutal ruling minority attempting to crush the blacks and students seeking equal rights – several were in fact killed – Stander flipped and opposed South Africa's social system by becoming a bank robber. This would be a dishonest movie if it attempted to show Stander as a Robin Hood figure. Instead it takes a more complex approach by illustrating the young man's moral objection but insisting upon his restless dissatisfaction.

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Stander - the naked truth?

Tom Jane as Stander Posted by Hello

An interview with Actor Tom Jane playing the notorious Afrikaner cop, Andre Stander in the movie Stander. Apparently it features some scenes of Jane nude. And says the director, truth is stranger than fiction.

According to actor Tom Jane, actions really do speak louder than words. Slouching in a San Francisco hotel lounge, the star of "Stander," based on the true story of a South African police captain turned serial bank robber, tries to explain in as few words as possible.

"If it were up to me ... I'd cut out dialogue ... altogether. It's useless," says Jane, taking about two minutes to finish both his thought and the buttering of his breakfast biscuit. "But ... inevitably ...(sigh)... you end up talking."

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Friday, August 13, 2004

The most important cultural event ever! Key actors profiled

Olympics? What Olympics? SA is playing the All Blacks tomorrow! Read this and get with it! Kwailawai* profiles the key South African actors in this clash of the titans.

Breyton Paulse
Joe Rokokoco's smaller, crapper distant cousin. Small. Crap.

Percy Montgomery
Enjoys sunbeds and gifting Tuqiris easy tries. Simplified his goal kicking in Wales, complicated his hairdo at Maxwell's House of Hair.

Bakkies Botha
Fond of thanking God in interviews for his talent, said talent seemingly entirely constituent of being rather large. A bad-motherfucker.

De Wet Barry
Paragon of boneheadedness. Will target Tuitupou's dodgy rib by tackling his eyebrows. Owes his place in the test team to making Steve Kefu cry a year ago.

Jean de Villers
Very highly rated. By very few.

Victor Matfield
Very Rock 'n Roll. Preferred position is outside centre but is often employed in the lineouts. Enjoys feuding.

Is it a Burger? Is it a plane?  Posted by Hello

Schalk Burger
Surname the target of numerous witless posts including the words "ham" and "beef".

Marius Joubert

Joe van Niekerk
Fought his way into the starting lineup by dyeing his hair blonde as South Africa attempt to employ an all Aryan loose trio.
Will last only minutes on Saturday.

Gerrie Britz
Played at lock, broke his nose, cried, replaced AJ Venter at no 7. A good move. For New Zealand.

Eddie Andrews
Enjoys crying during the national anthem, and then crying off the field after 60 minutes. One for the future if he wasn't 27.

Os du Randt
Failed cattle slaughterer who has successfully come back fatter, uglier, balder. Fat, ugly, bald. Likes tackling.

Kwailawai* predicts a Bok win.

Source Planet Rugby Forum

Home away from Home party on Thames

Gooi hom! Posted by Hello

Hey ouens! The 7th Home away from Home party takes place on two boats on the Thames tomorrow, Saturday the 14th of August.

Organised by Warren Carstens and Abe, the parties are held on two boats in central London (Tube: Temple), and aims to promote South African culture and music in the UK. Kwaito, Hip-hop, R&B, and house will be played on 4 dance floors by SA DJ's and the event will also feature a Cape Town jazz band. The door money goes to a South African Aids charity.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Forgiveness at Lorcarno

Forgiveness, has been entered into the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland and its a first in the history of South African cinema.

Forgiveness was selected as one of the opening films and will screen its international premiere at the festival. It has been running at art cinemas in South Africa since June.

Malunde part of Black Starz on US TV

Aug. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Black STARZ! announced that its widely celebrated Pan African Film Festival (PAFF), featuring award- winning films from Africa and the African Diaspora, will return to the US channel for its seventh year. One of the 4 movies featured will be the South African drama Malunde.

In "Malunde," an unlikely friendship forms between two survivors of the Apartheid era: Wonderboy, an eleven-year-old trying to survive on the streets of Johannesburg, and Kobus, a former soldier of the apartheid army, now shiftless and unemployed.

Their lives become inextricably intertwined when Wonderboy, fleeing from crack dealers, uses Kobus' van as his getaway vehicle. Kobus continuously tries to rid himself of the "little gangster," but Wonderboy's street smarts and Kobus' paternal instincts ultimately keep the pair together and pave the way for an unexpected journey. Directed by Stefanie Sycholt. Winner of six awards at the 2001 Avanti (South African Film) Awards, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Actor.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Film industry concern over sustainability South African film market

The Cape film industry has expressed deep concern over the sustainability of the South African film market as production costs rise, causing international film-makers to choose other, cheaper locations around the world.

The Cape Film Commission (CFC) hosted a meeting at the Mount Nelson Hotel on Thursday to discuss escalating production costs, global competition and the strengthening of the rand against foreign currencies.

Colin Howard, executive producer of Egg Films, said steep rates for artists and actors from local casting agencies had led to overseas producers bringing their own crews and artists to this country.

IDC invests more into SA moving image

Cape Town - The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has ploughed R60 million into the $20 million (R125 million) filming of Charlie Jade, a 20-part science fiction TV series.

The IDC is partnering with Canadian television network Chum TV and production partners Robin Spry and Bob Werthheimer in making the series.

"The corporation's investment in the film industry is not viewed in terms of individual productions only, but rather in the development of the industry itself," said Moses Silinda, the head of the media and motion pictures strategic business unit of the IDC.

Low film production costs and a suitable climate, coupled with the recent offer of tax incentives by the government to local and foreign film companies, provided an added incentive for foreign film makers to shoot productions locally. But more commercial funding was still needed to grow the industry, said Silinda.

In addition to financial figures and return on investment, the IDC also measured a project's success by the number of jobs that were created and by the level of skills transfer that took place when funding motion picture projects, Silinda said.

A spokesperson for the series said the cast came to 250 people and the crew an additional 250. The 16th of 20 episodes was currently being filmed.

Silinda said the South African film industry is growing well. In spite of the fact that it could take up to 48 months to show a return on investment, all indications were its strategic business unit was making sound financial and developmental investments.

The unit has funded 16 feature films and 12 documentaries since inception in 2001, with the first film released in 2003.

A recent project was Hotel Rwanda, a R170 million tripartite production between South Africa, Italy and the UK that was mainly filmed in Alexandra and Soweto, creating 9 000 jobs in two weeks of filming and 10 000 jobs over an eight-week period.

He said the media and motion pictures business unit was carefully managed, primarily because even though the industry was growing steadily in South Africa, motion pictures were risky projects.

For the industry to reach full potential, a lack of big studios, a shortage of skilled crew members and location capacity problems needed to be addressed, he said.

Cape Town's Dreamworld studios, once completed, would minimise infrastructure shortages, while the country had every conceivable backdrop a film maker could require.

The IDC ensured black economic empowerment benefited by encouraging film makers to take black or female producers on board when filming locally.

Other major film projects the business unit has been involved in include Stander and Red Dust.

Olive Schreiner's Story of an African Farm, which is due for release this month, is an entirely South African project.


Waar is jou snor Meneer? Posted by Hello

Sherwood Forest's African branch

Those two mad drivers weaving out of 1970s Johannesburg traffic, roaring down the white line as if it were a whites-only world? They're policemen, one of whom - the celebrated Andre Stander - will make a hard turn into a life of crime, a legendary career and, as it turns out, a very exciting movie.

Thomas Jane, whose better- known features include (gulp) "Dreamcatcher," "The Sweetest Thing" and most recently, "The Punisher," is a first-rate robber of the rich and repressive as Stander, who enjoys storied bandit status in South Africa. Like most cops, Stander is assigned to riot control in the apartheid-oppressed townships. When he's forced to kill a protesting black villager, it destroys what little faith he has in the tyrannical system and compels him to rob banks, don elaborate disguises and, at least once, hit the same bank twice in one day.


Thomas Jane and the banality of Hollywood evil.

By Armond White

STANDER IS FUN mostly for watching Thomas Jane climb the rock wall of movie stardom. He flexes muscle and conscience playing Andre Stander, the youngest captain in the Johannesburg police force, who loyally participated in quelling the 1976 Soweto uprising. Police riot squads had killed several students among the many protestors they clubbed and gassed; the politically ambivalent Stander, feeling guilt-ridden about this display of oppressive brutality, rebelled perversely. In an unexpected turnabout, he became a near-legendary bank robber. On trial three years later, Stander noted the irony of his career path and commented, "I'm charged for robbing banks but [as a cop] I have killed unarmed people."

Taking anti-heroic opposition to the apartheid system, Stander's self-serving style of civil disobedience illustrates the way some white South Africans passively disdained their social status. A movie that goes along with Stander's "rebellion" might appear to sanction his weak-principled haughtiness. The same covert egotism rules from Hollywood to Johannesburg. Yet seeing Thomas Jane maneuver around this problem helps expose the inherently racist narcissism that's at the root of such mainstream movie fiction as The Bourne Supremacy and Collateral, movies in which actors celebrate killers without conscience.

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Stander has been waiting to be made for some twenty years, its screenplay having been written by Bima Stagg shortly after South African cop-turned-robber Andre Stander was gunned down in a February 1984 shootout with Fort Lauderdale police. (If this is giving away the ending to the film, so be it -- or perhaps you thought Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were going to dance unharmed between the hailstorm of bullets at the end of Bonnie and Clyde, in which case, all apologies.) Writer Bima Stagg lived in South Africa in the 1980s and fully digested the myth of Stander, subject there of at least one play (Stander Lives) and several books that both celebrated and denigrated his rep as that country's Robin Hood and Clyde Barrow, a good guy who became a bad guy only after having his fill of his fellow officers' cruelty and corruption. Stander, in death but even well before, became larger than life among the whites from whom he brazenly stole without ever firing a shot and the blacks to whom he represented the ultimate anti-authoritarian figure, the hell-raising copper. There are even those in Johannesburg who believe he is still alive and wandering the streets -- Elvis as stick-up artist.

Over the years, many directors have been attached to the project, including Barbet Schroeder, but all passed until it landed in the lap of the most unlikely candidate, Bronwen Hughes, a Canadian best known for her benignly winsome, Nickelodeon-produced adaptation of Harriet the Spy in 1996 and the screwed-up screwball would-be comedy Forces of Nature with Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck three years later. Nothing on her tiny filmography suggested she had within her the vision and might to make something as remarkable as Stander, which fuses the wrenching immediacy of Paul Greengrass's Bloody Sunday with the dark humor of Bonnie and Clyde and the breezy pacing of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Yet the movie, with its shifts in tone (from the polemic to the comic) and contrasts in colors (the brown 1970s brighten as we enter the 1980s), has its own identity. Unlike, say, Barry Levinson's Bandits, another movie in which kindly bank robbers don disguises that look as if they've been pilfered from a costume shop along the escape route, Stander doesn't have the dusty feel of pastiche.

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Stander (2003)

Directed by
Bronwen Hughes

Writing credits (in alphabetical order)
Bima Stagg

Cast (in credits order)
Thomas Jane >> Andre Stander
Ashley Taylor >> Deventer
David O'Hara >> Allan Heyl
Dexter Fletcher >> Lee McCall
Deborah Unger >> Bekkie Stander
Marius Weyers >> Gen. Stander
At Botha >> Gen. Viljoen
Lionel Newton >> Desk Sgt. Smit
Melanie Merle >> Sharmaine
Hannes Muller >> Jan Wortmann
Shaeleen Tobin >> Grace Wortmann
Sean Else >> Asst. Det. Ed Janis
Peter Gardner >> Allums
Patrick Mynhardt >> Judge
Wikus du Toit >> Lawyer
Drummond Marais >> Prosecutor
Nicole Abel >> Young Lady in Bar
Waldemar Schultz >> Cop at accident
Emgee Pretorius >> Wedding Judge
James Borthwick >> Vorster/Det. Groot
Graham Clarke >> Riot general
Andre Stolz >> Armourer
Robin Smith >> Loudspeaker colonel
Allan Bevolo >> Riot Cop 1
Jacques Gombault >> Rot cop #2
Anton Dekker >> Colonel
Dirk Stoltz >> Cop at slum apartment
Neels Coetzee >> Drunk
Lynn Hooker >> Elderly woman
Iain Paton >> Macho Teller
Ben Kruger >> Bank guard
Thomas Ramabu >> Sunglasses Hawker
Diaan Lawrenson >> Female Bank Teller
Duncan Lawson >> Techie
Paul Luckhoff >> Suspect
Cassidy Coombs >> Kidnapped Child
Anel Olsson >> Bank Teller
Steven Raymond >> Prisoner 1
Chris Steyn >> Prisoner #2
George Moolman >> Male nurse
Andrew Thompson >> Farmboy
Val Donald-Bell >> Nurse
Moshoeshoe Chabeli >> Harold
Ron Smerczak >> Wild Coast cop
Clive Scott >> Bank officer
John Lesley >> Old man
Shafa'ath-Ahmad Khan >> Indian tailor
Graham Hopkins >> Porsche salesman
Paul Ditchfield >> Bank manager
Chris Buchanan >> Lane
Ben Horowitz >> Mark Jennings
Charlotte Butler >> Marlene Henn
Matt Stern >> Celebrity Spotter
Kerry Hiles >> Tweaked Customer
Duncan Harling >> Airport Cop
Mawongo Tyawa >> Zulu
Fats Bookholane >> Itano
Paul Slabolepszy >> Politico
Justin Strydom >> House Dick
Ferdinand Rabie >> Barrier Cop
Dan Robbertse >> Onlooker #1
Errol Ballentine >> Onlooker 2
Shane Howarth >> Airport Cop
Tessa Jubber >> Florida Girl
Gert White >> Frat Boy 1
Denton Douglas >> Frat Boy 2
Neil Coppen >> Blonde God
Tyrone Akal >> Mustang Kid
Zaa Nkweta >> Black officer
David Dukas >> White officer

Immigration bill 'a step back'

Business Unity SA's immigration adviser, Vic Esselaar, and several legal and accountancy firms warned that the new definition of "work" in the bill (Immigration Amendment Bill) could force lawyers, models, entertainers, film crews, photographers, actors, information technology and other specialists to apply for work permits to do a few days' work in South Africa. At present they can enter the country on ordinary visitors' permits.

The fact that most of these people would not have any "employer" in South Africa meant that, as the bill was now worded, their applications for work permits would be turned down, with considerable financial implications for the country.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Mamba Online

"As dit 'n slang was het dit jou gepik!" (Afrikaans: If it was a snake you would have been bitten mate, i.e. - that's was a close & risky shave).

Mr. Van Zyl - waarheen zyl hy? Posted by Hello

Some might view - yes even in enligthened SA - Mamba Online as dangerous as the most venomous viper. It's South Africa's new virtual collection of beefcake - and some have their slange on display. Not for the faint hearted.

Complete with a visit Gay SA section, a Meet Market (excellent), and the sexiest serpent in town. Damien van Zyl.

Get your poison here.

Two Moms

An extraordinary couple Posted by Hello

Meet an ordinary family of extraordinary people (plus six dogs and four cats).

The chronicling of South African gay history takes another step forward with a new documentary about a lesbian couple that took on South Africa’s adoption laws and changed the legal landscape for all same-sex couples.

Two Moms is a profile of two exceptional women and their unique family. The documentary, by one of the country’s leading makers of gay film, profiles lesbian couple Suzanne Du Toit and Anna-Marié De Vos, and their two adopted children. It charts their daily life, as well as their historic struggle to legally adopt children, be accepted and receive equal treatment under the law.

De Vos is the only female High Court judge in Pretoria, working in a conservative and male dominated realm. Not only was she the first woman to enter that august company but, at 41, is also one of the country’s youngest judges. Her life-partner of fifteen years, Du Toit, is an artist who also manages the family home near Plettenberg Bay.

The couple met via Suzanne’s sister in 1989. They had a commitment ceremony in Pretoria in 1990, which was performed by a lay preacher and friend. After approaching Cotlands Baby Sanctuary, in 1994 Anna-Marié was made the sole adoptive parent of abandoned siblings Nuschka and Reid. At the time the law would not allow the co-adoption of children by two same-sex partners.

In 2001 Suzanne made an application to the Pretoria High Court to also be recognized as a legal parent of the children. After winning the case in the High Court, in 2002 the matter was escalated to the Constitutional Court. In 2003 Suzanne was granted the right by the court to be a legal guardian of their adoptive children, changing South Africa’s adoption laws and making headlines in South Africa and around the world.

Two Moms is directed by award-winning director Luiz DeBarros and newcomer Andile Genge, and produced by Lars Schwinges and the acclaimed Underdog production team. Underdog (also the company behind Mambaonline) has previously produced Below the Belt, Flush and Metamorphis: The Remarkable Journey of Granny Lee.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Amandla! How it was done

When filmmaker Lee Hirsch began working on his debut film Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony, he was well aware that the audio was going to play “a crucial role” in the final film. “I wanted every sound, every note and every voice to count, especially because of the subject matter,” he said, “and I didn’t want to compromise.”

Amandla! is a new documentary that takes as its background and context the long and bloody political struggle in South Africa over apartheid. “But it’s not a film about apartheid and the history of what went on,” cautions Hirsch. “It’s really about the music and the power of music, and how it can communicate, inspire, uplift, unite and change the world around us, and it’s music that drives the story.”

Winner of the Audience Award and Freedom of Expression Award at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, Amandla! was directed by Hirsch and produced by Hirsch and Sherry Simpson. In mixing contemporary and historical footage, it tells the story of Black South African freedom music and reveals the central role it played in the long battle against apartheid. Threading the songs throughout the film, Amandla! covers 50 years of South African history and illustrates how resistance music grew and evolved in tandem with the fight for liberation.

The film itself also grew and evolved, notes Hirsch. “It began as a simple premise, to celebrate the power of song and look at the phenomenon of people in the streets singing these freedom songs, the grass-roots movement. But then it was natural to also include a lot of the legendary South African musicians and artists, and to then also look at the history of the struggle.”

After first visiting South Africa in 1992, Hirsch eventually moved there for several years, researching the project and “meeting and talking to anyone who’d listen,” he recalls. “Gradually I met a lot of the people who ended up in the film.”

The result is that world-renowned local musicians, including trumpeter Hugh Masekela, singer Miriam Makeba, pianist Abdullah Ibrahim and guitarist Vusi Mahlasela, offer their candid personal recollections, while archival footage captures the brutal arc of apartheid and the heroism of such leaders as Nelson Mandela, slain songwriter/activist Vuyisile Mini and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Sound recording in the field was done by Stu Deutsch. “He does sound for all of Spike Lee’s films and he’s very accomplished,” reported Hirsch. “And his passion is recording in the field, so the decision to have him come to South Africa was key as we walked out of there with really well-recorded audio. We also re-recorded and overdubbed a lot of the original material, such as the big Nelson Mandela finale, to beef up the audio. And all that was done in South Africa.”

The film brings dozens of freedom songs to the screen, drawing upon original recordings and impromptu live performances. After completing production in 2000, Hirsch and Simpson flew back to L.A. to start post. “We had all the audio tracks and all the original dialogue tracks, and as we began cutting some 200 hours of footage, I realized we needed something really special for sound design,” he recalled. “I wanted it to sound big and really capture the energy and spirit of the music.”

Despite having no budget, Hirsch decided to approach Skywalker Sound’s Gary Rydstrom, a seven-time Oscar winner and frequent collaborator with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. “To my utter amazement, after he’d seen some of the rough cuts he jumped on board — and then worked for free on all the sound design,” he reported. “And on top of that, Skywalker slashed their rates and basically made the whole thing possible.”

Rydstrom and supervising sound editor Al Nelson gradually built up the sound design over a couple of months, also working with music editor Kirk Denson, and “the resulting mix in Dolby Digital 5.1 is just amazing,” added Hirsch.

Hirsch, now 30, ultimately worked on his labor of love for over nine years. “I’m just so happy with the way the audio turned out,” he stressed. “It may just be a documentary, but it shows what you can achieve with a bit of luck and perseverance. Who could have predicted that Gary and Skywalker would become involved?”

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SA set for own 'Shrek' style flick

“You gotta love cake! Everybody loves cake!” shouts the motormouth Donkey to the green ogre, Shrek, in the movie of the same name.

But, with audiences flocking to the likes of ‘Shrek’, its recent sequel and ‘Finding Nemo’ it seems that everybody loves 3D animation too. And with two more computer-generated movies, ‘The Incredibles’ and ‘Shark Tale’, coming soon — as they say in the trailers — Hollywood is meeting the demand.

If people like Philip Boltt have their way so will South Africa, albeit not quite so soon. Boltt — a local animator, editor and sometime director — believes that within three years this country will be producing its own feature-length 3D animated movies. One of these is ‘Feedback’, the project he’s been working on for the past two years.

It’s a recreation of the acclaimed play by Andrew Buckland, a quirky murder mystery about a downtrodden detective helping two brothers discover who murdered their mother. In the process they become embroiled in the Foodstuff revolution, trying to liberate the imprisoned food stockpiles and end the reign of the D'Earth Multinational Food Corporation.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Culture in the New South Africa: After Apartheid, Volume Two

Kwela Books (Roggebaai)

Robert Kriger and Abebe Zegeye
© 2001. Website:

One of the many issues confronting post-apartheid South Africa is that the cultural expression of its citizens was severely limited by the structural inequalities brought about by the policies of the previous regime. The limitations have largely disappeared, but in building a new, democratic nation, many social, political and economic problems still need to be solved before a new sense of nationhood can develop.

This volume is a first step in rewriting the cultural history of the country. A wide range of South African forms of cultural expression is covered, among them language, the media and the intellectual climate, the theatre, rural wall decoration, literature, film, music, and the globally relevant phenomenon of biennales.

All the authors undertook their work with the recent, momentous history of South Africa as their background. Many of the analyses represent profoundly original work and new perspectives on old work. (From the cover notes.)

SA Directors rub shoulders in Italy

SOMERSET WEST director John Warner (26) was one of five South African film directors who attended the Genova Film Festival in Italy. John's short film, Note to Self, was screened at the festival along with films by about 20 South African directors. In addition to John, four other South African directors attended the festival: Katinka Heyns (Paljas), Zola Maseko (A Drink in the Passage), Kenneth Kaplan (Pure Blood) and Dumisani Phakathi (Waiting for Valdez).